New Mexico Democratic governor's campaign pays ex-staffer over crotch-grabbing incident
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign has made payments totaling $150,000 to a former campaign staff member who claims she grabbed his crotch after pouring a bottle of water on him.
Her campaign made an additional payment during the past six months as part of a broader settlement with the former campaign staffer, who accused the New Mexico Democrat of sexual mistreatment.
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A campaign spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal that the campaign paid an additional $87,500 as part of the settlement. The payment will be included in a mandatory campaign finance report Lujan Grisham’s reelection campaign plans to file on Monday.
According to the report, the additional payment brings the total settlement to $150,000.
The ex-staffer, James Hallinan, accused the governor of “pouring a bottle of water on his crotch and then grabbing his crotch through his clothes as she laughed,” according to the report. Hallinan said the incident took place in front of other campaign staffers in 2018, and he made the allegation the following year. Lujan Grisham won the New Mexico governorship in 2018 after six years in the House.
Lujan Grisham denied the claims.
In a statement, Kendall Witmer, a spokeswoman for the governor’s campaign, said the payments and settlement “resolved suspect and varied claims made by Mr. Hallinan, including his search for employment and clients following his tumultuous tenure on the 2018 campaign.”
“The campaign reached this settlement in 2020 due to the expense of litigating business disputes and to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Witmer said, adding, “Gov. Lujan Grisham will continue to work tirelessly for the people of New Mexico, delivering on record economic growth, educational investment, and tax cuts for New Mexico’s families — all while leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hallinan said he was talked out of reporting the incident by Lujan Grisham’s campaign manager Dominic Gabello, who went on to work for the governor in her official office before stepping down earlier this year. Gabello also denied the claim.
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In a statement, Will Reinert, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, likened the allegations against Lujan Grisham to the behavior of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who stepped down earlier this year amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
“Governor Lujan Grisham originally called the alleged crotch grab ‘bizarre,’ ‘slanderous’ and ‘categorically false‘ when trying to discredit her victim — just like the disgraced Andrew Cuomo,” Reinert said. “Now she has doled out $150k in settlement money. Michelle Lujan Grisham must treat this issue with the seriousness that comes with a 6-figure settlement and apologize to the victim and the people of New Mexico for her behavior.”
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Tags: News, New Mexico, Democrat, Sexual Harassment, Campaigns, Andrew Cuomo
Original Author: Kate Scanlon
Original Location: New Mexico Democratic governor's campaign pays ex-staffer over crotch-grabbing incident